Always remember to fully read the rally bookAfter my summer trek out west (yes, the ride report will be finished one day, yeah, that's the plan), I have not had a chance to do much riding during the waning summer months or the early part of October. However, having signed up for both the Void 8 rally as well as the BigTex Rally in consecutive weekends, I was ready to be on the road for a good 10 days or so and racking up about 5500 miles.
Although I have often worked with other riders to develop and compare routes, I have always rode rallies alone. However, for this year's Void, Rick Bailey and I discussed the possibility of riding the Void together since he would be passengerless this go around. The Rally Book and bonus locations were presented in two parts - the first part was just coordinates that showed up on Saturday and the description of the bonus locations as well as some other twists and turns that was to show up on Wednesday. As promised, the coordinates showed up on Saturday and I quickly started putting together routing plans, without the benefit of the rally book descriptions you were a little in the dark as to what exactly might be the correct route. However, after playing around with several possibilities, I landed on a route darting up through South Carolina and North Carolina before entering the twists and turns of Western Virgina, Eastern Kentucky, and West Virginia and then dropping into Fredricksburg that would have be traveling about 1250 miles which appeared to be doable for 31 hours. So after comparing notes with Rick, I decided that it was all we could do for now until Wednesday.
When the rest of the rally book is released, I find that the route that I generally laid out over the weekend was a good one and only minor additions and tweaks were necessary. So all that was left to do was load it into the GPS, load up the bike, and point south to Brunswick. After a third grade breakfast with the greatest kiddo in the world, I started my 250 mile trek from Athens to Brunswick. The weather was incredible - sunny skies in the lower 60's as I took a series of back roads south that would allow me to collect some additional Tour of Georgia locations as well as my personal trek to visit all Georgia Courthouses. I collected two addition Georgia tour locations and 8 courthouses, before pulling into the hotel a little after 4 p.m. Just in time for the traditional dinner/drinking/discussion at a local restaurant that we meet at the night before the rally begins. It was a good group of people - some just completed the 11-day epic Iron Butt Rally (11 days and 11,000 miles of this excitement). So it was great to hear about the stories that each had about their experience.
Back at the hotel, Rick and I compare notes to ensure that we are on the same page for the route and estimated times. We discuss a couple of bail out points along the way if needed. But in general, we feel that we have a very doable route that should land us near the upper end of the finishers list if we pull it off. We disagree about one bonus location, but don't need to make that decision until Asheville. (HINT: Important plot development forthcoming) I double check that I have the call-in text number stored in my phone - yep, there it is from last year - make a series of notes what I need to do after getting my starting receipt and then call it a night.
Unlike some rallies, Scott and Gary (the Rallymasters) put a ton of thought into creating a specific theme for each year's running of the Void - one of the reasons why I love riding in it. This year's was musical based. They Rallymasters came up with a great smorgasbord of venues and other off the wall locations that were either directly or not so directly tied to some musical performer. Since the south is peppered with so much great musical history, they had no trouble coming up with 90+ bonus locations sprinkle throughout the southeast and the northern border states (Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland).
|YMCA - One Bonus Down!|
|Love the Smile!!!|
|Aptly Named for the Void 8|
From Augusta it is a series of US highway up to Greenwood, SC for another gas receipt. Since Rick and I are significantly ahead of schedule, I use the time to extend the gas stop into a mini break. After fueling, I pull out my phone just to double check my starting text was received. Well, imagine my surprise that 1 minute after I sent the text back at 0852, I had a response back saying that I had sent it to the wrong number. I call over to Rick at the next pump and asked if he got an "ok" message for his starting text. He said that he did. I ask what number did he use. He said the one in the rally book instructions. I whip out the instructions and there it is right on the front page, but upon closer look it is a different number than last year. It appears that the number that I used is no longer acceptable for texts just phone calls. So it is now about 12:45 p.m. and I have don't have a good starting time. I have a couple of choices. First, I could say screw it and go home - after all I am only an hour from my house at this point. Second, I can ignore it and worry about when I get in to Fredricksburg tomorrow - not an option, I can't really ignore things. Third, send Scott a new text with the information and see how many points he will deduct. I resend (to the correct text number) my starting information and then add the following : "Send this at 0852 to the wrong text number. But am continuing with my rally." Rick and I jump on our bikes and head up to Spartansburg.
|Oh the things we take pictures of.|
|The Asheville Music Venue|
Pulling away from the Carter's Fold, we need to check in with the Rallymaster via text message. Mine goes through without incident (thanks Verizon). Rick's doesn't without a cell signal (boo AT&T). So we head down the road and try again and he succeeds. It is now dark and we have several hours of twisty mountain roads ahead of us.
|Crooked Trail Visitor Information|
|Van Lear Museum|
|Blame this theater for Miley Cyrus|
We hit the final bonus location in Cross Lanes, WV before finishing out the day with a rest receipt at a gas station. We check into the hotel and set the alarm for about 2 1/2 hours. Crash hard and are both up at 4 a.m. and heading back to the gas station to end the rest bonus.
A quick stop for the Purple Fiddle in Thomas, WV and gas in Gormania, WV, both Rick and I are feeling pretty good. US 50 in West Virginia and Western Virginia is a pretty decent road and although the rain slows us down, we are making good time. We do stop for a quick break to allow me to better water protect my bag and Rick to capture a few puffs. And we continue to head east into Winchester, VA for the bell tower honoring Patsy Cline. It is almost noon and quite frankly I'm done with this rally and just want to get to the hotel. But Rick convinces me otherwise and we complete our route by heading up to the Rainbow Road honky-tonk in Rippon, WV.
We point the bikes to Fredricksburg and even though my Garmin probably didn't route us the best way, we hit the Cracker Barrel at 2:10 and pull across the finish line at 2:20. The penalty window started at 2:00 so the finishing paperwork must be done quickly. I get mine finished and time stamped at 2:50 p.m. So I will lose some points for being late - but does it really matter since I didn't start correctly?
|Resting it off.|
The dinner was very tasty and the company incredible. The results are read through and I am happy to hear that Rick finished in second place. Not to pour salt into the wound, but my 1,849 points would have won - just edging out John Bailey - a very capable C14 rider by 2 points. But alas, it was not to be and I am deep at the bottom.
The ride home to Athens was quick the next morning. It was one of those days that had light traffic and overcast skies. I quickly got into a grove and made the trek home with limited stops. Overall, it was a great rally and the rally book is being held so I can explore other locations while out and about since they did such a great job with the write-ups.
On to the Big Texas Rally.